In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • The US produced more petroleum and natural gas than any other country in 2020.
  • Average US solar construction costs continued to fall in 2019.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

US’s natural gas and petroleum production

The US produced more petroleum and natural gas than any other country in 2020, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). That trend began in 2014, despite year-on-year declines from record-high production in 2019.

US petroleum and natural gas output in 2020 totaled 66.9 quadrillion British thermal units (quads), which nearly meets the amount as Russia’s 45.5 quads and Saudi Arabia’s 26.5 quads of petroleum and natural gas production combined, at 72 quads.

The EIA reports:

Petroleum and natural gas production fell in all three countries in 2020 following a rapid decline in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent crude oil price declines, particularly in the first quarter of 2020. Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to reduce their crude oil production as part of an OPEC+ agreement, but in the United States, reduced production was largely the result of a price-induced fall in tight oil investments and, to a lesser extent, unplanned outages.

Read more: The most important US energy chart of the year is out: 8 big takeaways

US solar construction costs

The annual capacity-weighted average construction costs for solar PV systems in the US continued to decrease in 2019, dropping by just under 3%, according to the EIA‘s data on newly constructed, utility-scale electric generators. 

Solar construction costs averaged $1,796 per kilowatt in 2019, a 2.8% decrease from 2018. The decrease was driven by falling costs for crystalline silicon axis-based tracking panels, which fell to $1,497 per kilowatt in 2019. Crystalline silicon axis-based tracking panels made up almost half of the solar capacity added in the US in 2019, at 2.5 gigawatts.

Among solar technologies, crystalline silicon fixed-tilt panels had the highest average cost in 2019, at $2,242 per kilowatt.

Graph: EIA

Utility-scale solar panel costs are expected to continue to fall 19% by 2025, according to Wood Mackenzie in December 2020:

However, procurement strategies and soft-cost optimization will determine just how much costs can be reduced on a dollar-per-installed-watt basis with more megawatts installed. Hardware costs can only go so low. Reductions in costs such as project management, due diligence and labor can yield more cost-per-watt benefits.

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